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Ahead of The Game - College Devy Prospects (Week 8 Edition)

I thought that Week 7 was going to be one of the better weeks of the season, but, even while thinking that, I could not have predicted the mayhem that occurred. The top 10 rankings had to be completely overhauled with four top 10 losses and we were close to one more.

Week 8 features four matchups between top 25 teams and five of the top 10 teams will play a road game.  It's unlikely that we'll match the pandemonium of Week 7, but the slate of games should provide for entertainment throughout the day.

Our Week 8 preview features four players on top 10 teams and only one player on a team ranked outside of the top 25.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Shea Patterson, QB Michigan

Week 8 - at Michigan St (10/20)

After establishing themselves as a true top 10 team in the country, it seems only fair to acknowledge a few Wolverines. So, we'll start out this prospect preview with their new QB, Shea Patterson. Patterson was granted immediate eligibility following the sanctions being placed on Ole Miss during this past offseason and the former Toledo native took his talents up north to join Jim Harbaugh's squad.

Shea Patterson G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2016 3 72 132 54.5 880 6.7 6.6 6 3
2017 7 166 260 63.8 2259 8.7 8.4 17 9

Patterson was effective in his limited playing time at Ole Miss as he only played the final three weeks of his freshman season and suffered a season-ending knee injury during his sophomore campaign. If you're looking for concerning items, you can find a few in his incredibly small sample size as a part of the Rebels. First, his efficiency during his freshman season rightfully raises eyebrows. His sub-60 percent completion percentage, paired with a sub-7.0 AY/A indicates that he struggled with the change in competition. But for the most part, he righted the ship in 2017 after a full offseason as the starting QB. The second concern is his touchdown to interception ratio is just under two to one for both seasons. While he did manage to improve his overall accuracy, he still gave the ball away at a higher rate than you'd hope.

But similar to his improvement from year one to year two, he's managed to alleviate some of these concerns after the transfer.

Shea Patterson G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2018 7 109 159 68.6 1311 8.2 8.7 10 3

Since joining the Wolverines, Patterson has improved across the board, statistically. His AYA is slightly improved and his completion percentage is up and he's doing this with his longest college season, to date. And while he's still thrown a few interceptions, he's drastically reduced the rate of interceptions, as compared to previous years. Some of that can also be attributed to being asked to do less on a better team as he's down more than 100 pass attempts from his first seven games in 2017.  The last remaining concern for Patterson is his ability to stay healthy. While he's not a running QB, he's a mobile QB. And that has led to him missing time. He's currently dealing with a hand injury, but it's not expected to keep him out for long.

As a prospect, there are still some concerns about the technique of Patterson. As of now, he's not projected as one of the top NFL prospects for the 2019 class, but with his team in the top 10, he'll have the opportunity to prove doubters wrong on a big stage. With games remaining against Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State, he should have the opportunity to play in front of plenty of scouts. And if everything continues to improve, he may surprise everyone and leave after just one season in Ann Arbor. As of now, he's just a player to monitor, but if he begins to get some draft buzz, he could be a late-round flier in rookie drafts.

Running Back

Adrian Killins, RB Central Florida

Week 8 - at East Carolina (10/20)

The self-proclaimed 2017 National Champion, Central Florida Knights have continued their winning ways despite having a new coach and find themselves in the top ten of both the AP and coaches poll. And while McKenzie Milton is the biggest reason for their success, Adrian Killins, Jr. continues to be a big part of their offense.

Adrian Killins, Jr. G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2016 13 50 325 6.5 4 18 198 11 2
2017 13 123 790 6.4 10 25 169 6.8 1

Despite being a 5-foot-8 "small" three-star prospect, Killins made an immediate impact as a freshman. He may have only carried the ball 50 times, but he racked up more than 300 yards and also caught more than a pass per game. He built on his success from his freshman season with nearly 800 rushing yards, still over a six-yard average, and increased to nearly two receptions per game. While his efficiency dipped slightly, he proved to be a capable all-around RB.

Adrian Killins, Jr. G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 6 76 385 5.1 4 6 189 31.5 1

The step backward this year in rushing efficiency is noteworthy because it's likely going to be his biggest workload since his arrival, but he remains an intriguing option. He's piled up receiving yards with an insane 31.5 average despite only receiving one catch per game and while he's dipped below six yards per carry, he's still being utilized as the lead back.  And in addition to his rushing and receiving success, he's averaged 22.5 yards per kickoff return and has been used, in some capacity, each of his three seasons.

Killins isn't a guy projected to leave school following the 2018 season, but if the team's success continues and he improves his efficiency, there's a chance that he takes the leap to the NFL. It's hard to project him as anything more than a day three pick, but that can always change with a strong combine. As a day three pick, he'd be a final round pick in rookie drafts assuming decent landing spot. He could become an instant change-of-pace back similar to less explosive Nyheim Hines.

Karan Higdon, RB Michigan

Week 8 - at Michigan St (10/20)

Two Michigan players in one article hurt my heart a little bit, but Higdon has earned it this year. While Patterson is getting the headlines, Higdon has been a producer for two seasons and he's finally getting the chance to be a workhorse.

Karan Higdon G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2015 3 11 19 1.7 0 1 3 3 0
2016 12 72 425 5.9 6 0 0 0
2017 13 164 994 6.1 11 8 131 16.4 0

As a freshman, you can give Higdon a pass on his production. The sample size is way too small to glean anything of value. When he was finally given a meaningful opportunity to play in 2016, he nearly reached the ideal six yards per carry right away and even more impressively, he scored six touchdowns on just 72 carries. He followed up that campaign by more than doubling his workload and almost doubling his TD output in 2017. But what stands out most from that season is finally getting some usage in the passing game. And at 16.4 yards per catch, it's a wonder they didn't give him more than one catch every other game.

Karan Higdon G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 6 120 687 5.7 6 3 31 10.3 0

2018 is mostly confirming what we knew about Higdon. He's never going to be a prolific receiver so his projection is likely a two-down NFL back, but he's capable of catching a pass or two in check down situations. And while he's, once again, below the ideal rushing efficiency, he could bring that average back up with a few big runs over the back half of the season and he's on pace for his first 200+ carry season.

Higdon isn't a special RB in loaded classes, but in a weaker year, he could be a top 4 round selection. And then it comes down to the landing spot. If he joins a team that could use him as a redzone option alongside a versatile back, he could have immediate, if somewhat inconsistent, value, but with a landing spot like that, there's always a chance that his usage increases with an opportunity. If he projects as a mid-round NFL draft selection, look for his rookie draft stock to climb to the end of the second round because of RB inflation.

Wide Receiver

K.J. Hill, WR Ohio State

Week 8 - at Purdue (10/20)

If you'd asked me at the start of the season which Ohio State WR would become the team's most talked about player, K.J. Hill probably would have been tenth on the list. But after playing a critical win in the comeback against Penn State and making the highlight reel catch against Minnesota, Hill is making a name for himself.

KJ Hill G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 8 18 262 14.6 1 0.09 0.04 0.07
2017 14 56 549 9.8 3 0.15 0.08 0.11

Hill was less than impressive during his first two seasons.  His usage was very limited in his first season and while he was consistently on the field in 2017, he was never the primary option. The positive note from 2017 was reaching a 15 percent share of the offense. It's not enough to be considered a breakout, but with his emergence in 2018, it's a second season with a meaningful share. The other positive is his slight improvement in touchdown efficiency, however, that's also paired with a regression in his yardage per catch. It had been an up and down journey for Hill entering 2018 which is what makes this emergence so impressive.

KJ Hill G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 7 40 551 14 4 0.21 0.14 0.18

There's been a clear improvement for Hill this season. Following last week, Hill still trails Parris Campbell for the lead in targets by 9 but is only 3 catches behind him and only 6 yards back. His 87 percent catch rate at 12 yards per targets is exactly why he's becoming one of the primary targets for Dwayne Haskins. Owning 21 percent of the market share of yards for an improved passing offense is nothing to scoff at. While it's unlikely he'll reach the truly dominant share this season, his improvement is the most noticeable. And through just four games, he's already eclipsed his career high in touchdowns. If the Buckeyes play in 14 games this year, he's on pace for more than 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Hill going to fall well short of the 29 percent career market share that's ideal for NFL prospects and his final season numbers aren't likely to increase to a level that will make him stand out. But what he continues to do is raise his NFL draft stock. And if he's a second-round selection, then he'll have to be on the radar. After analytics scouts whiffed on their Michael Thomas evaluations, K.J. Hill might be their chance at some reprieve. If he continues to be the go-to guy in the Ohio State offense in a playoff run and measures around 200 lbs at the combine, he could be the next WR to succeed in spite of lacking ideal market shares.

Felton Davis III, WR Michigan State

Week 7 - vs Michigan (10/20)

Felton Davis III has been old reliable for the last two seasons in East Lansing, but his production against Penn State is why he is listed here. Coming off of a 100 yard, two touchdown game including the game-winning touchdown catch with 19 seconds remaining, Davis has the chance to build upon an already strong draft profile with another high profile game against rival, Michigan.

Felton Davis III G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 2 2 50 25 0 0.02 0.00 0.01
2016 5 12 150 12.5 1 0.06 0.05 0.05
2017 11 55 776 14.1 9 0.28 0.46 0.37

Felton Davis has been the model of consistency for the last two seasons. With the emergence of Brian Lewerke at QB, Davis has become his primary target which is why he's on pace for his season with more than a 25 percent market share of yards. The leap from 2016 to 2017 is highlighted by his improvement in yardage and the big jump to nine touchdowns. Davis has hauled in 55 percent of his, team-leading, 56 targets this year. He's also climbed over the 15 yards per catch threshold and is on pace for a possible double digit TD season.

Felton Davis III G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 6 31 474 15.3 4 0.29 0.51 0.40

At his current pace, Davis is going to fall short of the 29 percent career market share of yards, but with two seasons over a 0.3 dominator rating, he's worth a look as a mid-round WR option. In most classes, Davis would have additional appeal as a safe option who could contribute to an NFL team right away, but in a class that appears to be very deep, he could slip further down the ranks. With the right landing spot, Davis could become an unsexy, but consistent contributor and that's worth watching. Keep an eye on him because he could be your late round steal in rookie drafts.

Tight End

Dawson Knox, TE Ole Miss

Week 8 - vs Auburn (10/20)

Entering the season, Dawson Knox was one of the under-the-radar NFL prospects at the TE position. While players like Caleb Wilson and Noah Fant, rightfully, got the headlines, Knox was seen as a player that could rise up draft boards over the course of a season as part of a good offense. And for a few reasons, that hasn't happened.

Dawson Knox G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
2017 8 24 321 13.4 0 0.08 0 0.04

Averaging 15.7 yards per reception for his career, Knox has proven to be, at minimum, an option in the passing game. His shortened 2017 campaign showed glimpses of promise as he likely would have held a near 15 percent market share of yards, but that's somewhat speculation. And with only seven percent of yards in five games of 2018, it's clear that he's likely the fourth option. In his defense, he plays alongside three NFL caliber WRs who hog a greater than normal share of the offense. And with DK Metcalf being ruled out for the remainder of the season, Knox will hopefully receive a bigger workload.

Dawson Knox G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 5 7 166 23.7 0 0.07 0 0.03

For a TE to have 13 games without a touchdown is somewhat concerning. While he's proved capable as a pass-catcher for yardage, his limited usage around the endzone has to be a red flag for teams looking for the next Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. As of right, it would be a bit of a surprise for Knox to declare for the draft and give up his final season of eligibility, but stranger things have happened. If he finds his way onto an NFL roster, he'll be a name to watch, but likely a player to ignore during the draft.

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